A Story of Creativity, Resilience, and Legacy

Bal in his studio
Welcome back to our blog series! Last month, we delved into the captivating life of Ralph Ballantine Sr., uncovering a wealth of fascinating stories. Now, we shift our focus to another compelling figure: Bal, the son of Ralph Ballantine Sr. His journey is nothing short of remarkable, filled with its own unique twists and turns. Get ready to be inspired once again as we explore the incredible life of Bal.

In the quaint town of St. Johns, Michigan, nestled amidst the charming streets and rolling countryside, Ralph "Bal" Ballantine's journey began. Born into a family steeped in the traditions of community service and entrepreneurship, Bal's upbringing at 506 S Oakland provided the fertile soil from which his creative spirit would blossom.

From a young age, Bal's passion for art and innovation was evident. Despite the stern admonishments of his elementary school teacher, whom he affectionately referred to as "Old Lady Ratchet," Bal's left-handed doodles and artistic inclinations persisted. The cat-and-mouse game with Authority only fueled his determination, ultimately leading to his mastery of ambidextrous artistry—a skill that would shape his future in ways he never imagined.

As Bal's artistic talents flourished, so too did his resilience and determination. His time in the U.S. Marines during World War II proved to be a turning point, as he discovered a new outlet for his creativity while stationed at the Parris Island Marine Recruit Depot. Transferred to Washington, D.C., Bal's artistic prowess caught the eye of his commanding officer, leading to a career as an illustrator for Leatherneck Magazine and setting the stage for his future success.

After the war, Bal's career soared to new heights as he joined the Cling Studio in Chicago and became a nationally recognized illustrator. His creations, including the iconic "Allstate Good Hands" logo and the beloved "Jolly Green Giant," captivated audiences nationwide, earning him accolades and recognition as a visionary in his field.

Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life, Bal's roots remained firmly planted in the soil of his hometown. The memories of 506 S Oakland and The Orange Pear, his childhood art studio nestled within the family home, served as constant reminders of the boundless possibilities that awaited within the walls of home. The light within The Orange Pear cast a warm glow, illuminating the space where Bal honed his craft and brought his vibrant imagination to life.

In 1967, Bal and his wife Marjorie "Sis" Ballantine embarked on a new adventure, moving to Hilton Head Island and embracing a life of creativity and community. Together, they collaborated on groundbreaking projects, leaving an indelible mark on the island's landscape and further solidifying Bal's legacy as a visionary architect and designer.

As the years passed and seasons changed, Bal's legacy endured—a testament to the power of creativity, resilience, and the enduring bonds of family and community. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit lives on in the beauty of his works and the lives he touched along the way.

In the heart of St. Johns, amidst the laughter and love that filled 506 S Oakland, Bal's journey began—a journey of creativity, resilience, and legacy that continues to inspire generations.

And stay tuned until the end for a sneak peek into next month's blog post, where we'll unravel the intriguing tale of a period when 506 sat dormant for several years and the profound impact of its subsequent owner, Dr. R. E. Benson. You won't want to miss it!